Who is Wendy in Welcome to Marwen?

‘Welcome to Marwen’ follows the inspiring true story of Mark Hogancamp, who created a world of dolls and figurines as a way to process his trauma after being the victim of a hate crime. The movie begins sometime after the attack and focuses more on Mark’s healing journey than the attack itself. We discover a fully-formed town of Marwen, with different dolls representing different people in Mark’s life. One of the most important figures in Marwen, who also lends her name to the town, is Wendy. While every other real-life versions of the dolls in Marwen appear in the movie, we never see the real person behind the doll named Wendy. What role does she play in Mark’s life?

The Real Wendy’s Arc in Welcome to Marwen is Changed Considerably

In the movie, Wendy is referred to as the waitress who worked at the Avalanche Roadhouse and found a beaten-up Mark outside the place. She was the one who took him to the hospital and saved his life. In her memory, Mark names the town “Marwen.” However, by the time the events of the film happen, Wendy has moved on from Kingston and has settled in California. In real life, however, things were a bit different.

A woman indeed found Mark Hogancamp after he was attacked, but her name was not Wendy, and she was not exactly a waitress. The woman who helped Hogancamp was named Nora Noonan, and at that time, she worked as a bartender in the Luny Tunes Bar. When she found him, he was in a very bad state, and if she hadn’t helped him, he would died of blood filling into his lungs and drowning him. If Noonan helped Hogancamp, then why did the film go with the name “Wendy,” and why did he use “wen” for Wendy in “Marwen”?

In real life, Hogancamp did know a Wendy, but under different circumstances. Following the attack, he started working at the Anchorage restaurant to make a living to be able to afford the basic necessities outside of the disability checks he received to sustain himself. Wendy worked as a waitress there and became friends with Hogancamp, who developed a crush on her. However, he could never act on his feelings in real life because Wendy was happily married. So, he poured his feelings into Marwen, where Wendy got a doll by her name. In her honor, Hogancamp also built a miniature restaurant called Wendy Lee’s Kitchen.


For dramatic purposes, the movie makes a few changes to the people around Hogancamp. Because Wendy is integral to the name of “Marwen,” the creators couldn’t have entirely dropped her from the story. However, telling the story over the course of two hours required them to drop a few people and focus only on the stuff unquestionably relevant to Mark’s storyline. So, instead of mentioning both Nora and Wendy, they coalesced them into one character to make things easier from the narrative point of view.

For Mark, in the movie, Wendy is his savior, which is why he names his town after her. He also feels a deep love and respect for her because she saved his life, and because he doesn’t have the same feelings for any other woman (before Nicol shows up), he makes Wendy the doll the main love interest of Captain Hogie in Marwen. With this, we get Mark’s savior and explore Mark’s romantic feelings for her. So, even though she never appears in the flesh in the film, the mention of her name shows her importance for Mark, and the continued use of “wen” in Marwen, even when it becomes Marwencol, shows that Mark will continue to love and respect Wendy, even when he develops feelings for someone else.

Read More: Welcome to Marwen: Is Avalanche Roadhouse a Real Restaurant and Bar?